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Australia same-sex marriage: Politician blasts public gallery for ‘cheering the erosion of religious liberty’

Darin Graham December 7, 2017

George Christensen speaks at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia.

An Australian politician slammed onlookers in the public gallery for cheering during the vote to legalise same-sex marriage.

In a fiery outburst in the House of Representatives, George Christensen – Coalition MP for Dawson – called out those who applauded the failed religious liberty amendment to the same-sex marriage bill.

He said: “The amendments that have been put forward by the member for Mallee – go very much, again, to the heart of religious liberty that we’ve seen voted down again and again today in this house,” Mr Christensen told parliament.

“And we’ve seen cheers from the gallery … cheering for the erosion of religious liberty … cheering for the erosion of religious liberty,” he said as onlookers applauded again.

“There they go, cheering again, cheering again, when I’m specifically saying eroding religious liberty, they support that.

“That is the voice of tolerance today, and I am disgusted. I am absolutely disgusted that we are going down this track.”

Mr Christensen earlier announced on Facebook that he would abstain from the same-sex marriage vote despite his electorate’s ‘Yes’ vote in the voluntary poll.

“The House of Representatives has just voted to not allow civil celebrants – even those who are pastors – to exempt themselves from having to perform marriages for same-sex couples,” he wrote on Facebook today.

“They’ve effectively ensured a lot of people who would otherwise vote for legislation to allow same-sex marriage can no longer vote that way, myself included.

“It also looks like they are going to vote down the right of churches to refuse to hold same-sex marriages and marriage celebrations in church halls and the like.”

Gay couples will be able to legally marry in Australia after a same-sex marriage bill sailed through parliament on December 7, ending decades of political wrangling. / AFP PHOTO / SEAN DAVEY
(Getty)

Onlookers in the Australian parliament’s House of Representatives even burst into song as MP’s voted to allow same-sex marriage.

Related: Two Australian MPs defied their own constituents to vote against same-sex marriage

Those in the public gallery raised rainbow flags, hugged and cheered while singing I am Australian as the legislation sailed through parliament without amendments.

It’s unclear how many MPs abstained from voting but reports say it could be up to 12. The Australian has named Tony Abbott, Andrew Hastie, Michael Sukkar, Kevin Andrews, Scott Morrison, Alex Hawke and Mr Christensen as among them.

After the result was announced, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull congratulated those that voted Yes and No in the poll.

“What a day for love, for equality, for respect,” he said.
“Australia has done it.”

Penny Wong, a Labour party senator who has two children with her lesbian partner, said: “I am feeling happy.”

While, Bill Shorten, leader of the opposition Labor Party, asked for forgiveness “for the long delay, for the injustices and the indignities both great and small.”

He also paid tribute to his colleague Wong, who he said had walked “a lonely road and a hard road” to help change Australia.

More: Australia, Australia, religious same-sex marriage, same-sex marriage Australia

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